US Ambassador to the United Nations – Nikki Haley
US Ambassador to the UN says Hamas statements of receiving weapons from Iran show Iran is violating UN resolutions banning weapons exports.
The United States last week described remarks by a Hamas leader boasting of strong military ties with Iran as a “stunning admission” that showed Tehran was violating a UN ban on arms exports.
Hamas leader Yahya al-Sinwar, who heads the Islamist terrorist movement in Gaza, told reporters on Monday that Iran was the “biggest supporter” of Hamas’s military wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades.
“The Iranian military support to Hamas and al-Qassam is strategic,” said Sinwar, adding that ties with Iran had “become fantastic and returned to its former era.”
In a statement, the US mission to the United Nations recalled that Iran is barred from exporting weapons under a key UN resolution that endorsed the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
“Once again, Iran is showing its true colors,” said US Ambassador Nikki Haley.
Iran must abide by UN resolutions or decide “whether it wants to be the leader of a jihadist terrorist movement,” she added.
“It’s long past time for the international community to hold Iran to the same standard that all countries who actually value peace and security are held to.”
A strong supporter of Israel, Haley has repeatedly criticized Iran at the United Nations and cast doubt over its commitment to the nuclear deal.
The United States considers Hamas, which has fought three wars with Israel since 2008, a terrorist organization.
Hamas has run Gaza since 2007 and received Iranian financial and military support for years, but the movement had distanced itself from Iran over Tehran’s strong backing of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria.
Sinwar, however, has sought to rebuild relations, sending a high-level delegation to meet Iranian officials.
TWO KINDS OF HATE
by chief Rabbi Lord Sacks
It is by any standard a strange, almost incomprehensible law. Here it is in the form it appears in this week’s parsha:
Remember what the Amalekites did to you along the way when you came out of Egypt. When you were weary and worn out, they met you on your journey and attacked all who were lagging behind; they had no fear of God. When the Lord your God gives you rest from all the enemies around you in the land He is giving you to possess as an inheritance, you shall blot out the name of Amalek from under the heaven. Do not forget. (Deut. 25:17-19)
The Israelites had two enemies in the days of Moses: the Egyptians and the Amalekites. The Egyptians enslaved the Israelites. They turned them into a forced labor colony. They oppressed them. Pharaoh commanded them to drown every male Israelite child. It was attempted genocide. Yet about them, Moses commands:
Do not despise an Egyptian, because you were strangers in his land. (Deut. 23:8)
The Amalekites did no more than attack the Israelites once, an attack that they successfully repelled (Ex. 17:13). Yet Moses commands, “Remember.” “Do not forget.” “Blot out the name.” In Exodus the Torah says that “God shall be at war with Amalek for all generations” (Ex. 17:16). Why the difference? Why did Moses tell the Israelites, in effect, to forgive the Egyptians but not the Amalekites?
The answer is to be found as a corollary of teaching in the Mishna, Avot (5:19):
Whenever love depends on a cause and the cause passes away, then the love passes away too. But if love does not depend on a cause then the love will never pass away. What is an example of the love which depended upon a cause? That of Amnon for Tamar. And what is an example of the love which did not depend on a cause? That of David and Jonathan.
When love is conditional, it lasts as long as the condition lasts but no longer. Amnon loved, or rather lusted, for Tamar because she was forbidden to him. She was his half-sister. Once he had had his way with her, “Then Amnon hated her with intense hatred. In fact, he hated her more than he had loved her.” (2 Sam. 13:15). But when love is unconditional and irrational, it never ceases. In the words of Dylan Thomas: “Though lovers be lost, love shall not, and death shall have no dominion.”
The same applies to hate. When hate is rational, based on some fear or disapproval that – justified or not – has some logic to it, then it can be reasoned with and brought to an end. But unconditional, irrational hatred cannot be reasoned with. There is nothing one can do to address it and end it. It persists.
That was the difference between the Amalekites and the Egyptians. The Egyptians’ hatred and fear of the Israelites was not irrational. Pharaoh said to his people:
‘The Israelites are becoming too numerous and strong for us. We must deal wisely with them. Otherwise, they may increase so much, that if there is war, they will join our enemies and fight against us, driving [us] from the land.’ (Ex. 1:9-10)
The Egyptians feared the Israelites because they were numerous. They constituted a potential threat to the native population. Historians tell us that this was not groundless. Egypt had already suffered from one invasion of outsiders, the Hyksos, an Asiatic people with Canaanite names and beliefs, who took over the Nile Delta during the Second Intermediate Period of the Egypt of the Pharaohs. Eventually they were expelled from Egypt and all traces of their occupation were erased. But the memory persisted. It was not irrational for the Egyptians to fear that the Hebrews were another such population. They feared the Israelites because they were strong.
(Note that there is a difference between “rational” and “justified”. The Egyptians’ fear was in this case certainly unjustified. The Israelites did not want to take over Egypt. To the contrary, they would have preferred to leave. Not every rational emotion is justified. It is not irrational to feel fear of flying after the report of a major air disaster, despite the fact that statistically it is more dangerous to drive a car than to be a passenger in a plane. The point is simply that rational but unjustified emotion can, in principle, be cured through reasoning.)
Precisely the opposite was true of the Amalekites. They attacked the Israelites when they were “weary and weak”. They focused their assault on those who were “lagging behind.” Those who are weak and lagging behind pose no danger. This was irrational, groundless hate.
With rational hate it is possible to reason. Besides, there was no reason for the Egyptians to fear the Israelites any more. They had left. They were no longer a threat. But with irrational hate it is impossible to reason. It has no cause, no logic. Therefore it may never go away. Irrational hate is as durable and persistent as irrational love. The hatred symbolized by Amalek lasts “for all generations.” All one can do is to remember and not forget, to be constantly vigilant, and to fight it whenever and wherever it appears.
There is such a thing as rational xenophobia: fear and hate of the foreigner, the stranger, the one not like us. In the hunter-gatherer stage of humanity, it was vital to distinguish between members of your tribe and those of another tribe. There was competition for food and territory. It was not an age of liberalism and tolerance. The other tribe was likely to kill you or oust you, given the chance.
The ancient Greeks were xenophobic, regarding all non-Greeks as barbarians. So still are many native populations. Even people as tolerant as the British and Americans were historically distrustful of immigrants, be they Jews, Irish, Italian or Puerto Rican – and for some this remains the case today. What happens, though, is that within two or three generations the newcomers acculturate and integrate. They are seen as contributing to the national economy and adding richness and variety to its culture. When an emotion like fear of immigrants is rational but unjustified, eventually it declines and disappears.
Anti-Semitism is different from xenophobia. It is the paradigm case of irrational hatred. In the Middle Ages Jews were accused of poisoning wells, spreading the plague, and in one of the most absurd claims ever – the Blood Libel – they were suspected of killing Christian children to use their blood to make matzot for Pesach. This was self-evidently impossible, but that did not stop people believing it.
The European Enlightenment, with its worship of science and reason, was expected to end all such hatred. Instead it gave rise to a new version of it, racial anti-Semitism. In the nineteenth century Jews were hated because they were rich and because they were poor; because they were capitalists and because they were communists; because they were exclusive and kept to themselves and because they infiltrated everywhere; because they were believers in an ancient, superstitious faith and because they were rootless cosmopolitans who believed nothing.
Anti-Semitism was the supreme irrationality of the age of reason.
It gave rise to a new myth, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a literary forgery produced by members of the Czarist Russia secret police toward the end of the nineteenth century. It held that Jews had power over the whole of Europe – this at the time of the Russian pogroms of 1881 and the anti-Semitic May Laws of 1882, which sent some three million Jews, powerless and impoverished, into flight from Russia to the West.
The situation in which Jews found themselves at the end of what was supposed to be the century of Enlightenment and emancipation was stated eloquently by Theodor Herzl, in 1897:
We have sincerely tried everywhere to merge with the national communities in which we live, seeking only to preserve the faith of our fathers. It is not permitted us. In vain are we loyal patriots, sometimes superloyal; in vain do we make the same sacrifices of life and property as our fellow citizens; in vain do we strive to enhance the fame of our native lands in the arts and sciences, or her wealth by trade and commerce.
In our native lands where we have lived for centuries we are still decried as aliens, often by men whose ancestors had not yet come at a time when Jewish sighs had long been heard in the country . . . If we were left in peace, but I think we shall not be left in peace.
This was deeply shocking to Herzl. No less shocking has been the return of Anti-Semitism in parts of the world today, particularly the Middle East and even Europe, within living memory of the Holocaust. Yet the Torah intimates why. Irrational hate does not die.
Not all hostility to Jews, or to Israel as a Jewish state, is irrational, and where it is not, it can be reasoned with. But some of it is irrational. Some of it, even today, is a repeat of the myths of the past, from the Blood Libel to the Protocols. All we can do is remember and not forget, confront it and defend ourselves against it.
Amalek does not die. But neither does the Jewish people. Attacked so many times over the centuries, it still lives, giving testimony to the victory of the God of love over the myths and madness of hate.
By Ryan Mauro/Clarion Project
By PNW Staff
BY YAAKOV LAPPIN/JNS.ORG
by Caroline Glick
If the leaders of Iraqi Kurdistan aren’t intimidated into standing down, on September 25, the people of Iraqi Kurdistan will go to the polls to vote on a referendum for independence.
The Kurds have been hoping to hold the referendum since 2013.
Whereas Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu restated his support for Kurdish independence earlier this month in a meeting with a delegation of visiting Republican congressmen, the Trump administration has urged Kurdish President Masoud Barzani and his colleagues to postpone the referendum indefinitely.
US Defense Secretary James Mattis, who visited with Barzani in the Kurdish capital of Erbil two weeks ago, said that the referendum would harm the campaign against Islamic State.
In his words, “Our point right now is to stay focused like a laser beam on the defeat of ISIS and to let nothing distract us.”
Another line of argument against the Kurdish referendum was advanced several weeks ago by The New York Times editorial board. The Times argued the Kurds aren’t ready for independence. Their government suffers from corruption, their economy is weak, their democratic institutions are weak and their human rights record is far from perfect.
While the Times’ claims have truth to them, the relevant question is compared to what?
Compared to their neighbors, not to mention to the Times’ favored group the Palestinians, the Kurds, who have been self-governing since 1991, are paragons of good governance. Not only have they given refuge to tens of thousands of Iraqis fleeing ISIS. Iraqi Kurdistan has been an island of relative peace in a war-torn country since the US-led invasion in 2003.
Its Peshmerga forces have not only secured Kurdistan. They have been the most competent force fighting ISIS since its territorial conquests in 2014.
The same is the case of the Kurdish YPG militia in Syrian Kurdistan.
As for Mattis’s argument that the referendum, and any subsequent moves to secede from Iraq, would harm the campaign against ISIS, the first question is whether he is right.
If Mattis is concerned that the referendum will diminish Iranian and Turkish support for the campaign, then his concern is difficult to defend.
Turkey has never been a significant player in the anti-ISIS campaign. Indeed, until recently, Turkey served as ISIS’s logistical base.
As for Iran, this week Iranian-controlled Hezbollah and Lebanese military forces struck a deal to permit ISIS fighters they defeated along the Lebanese-Syrian border to safely transit Syria to ISIS-held areas along the Syrian border with Iraq. In other words, far from cooperating with the US and its allies against ISIS, Iran and its underlings are fighting a separate war to take ISIS out of their areas of influence while enabling ISIS to fight the US and its allies in other areas.
This then brings us to the real question that the US should be asking itself in relation to the Kurdish referendum. That question is whether an independent Kurdistan would advance or harm US strategic interests in the region.
Since the US and Russia concluded their cease-fire deal for Syria on July 7, Netanyahu has used every opportunity to warn that the cease-fire is a disaster.
In the interest of keeping Mattis’s “laser focus” on fighting ISIS, the US surrendered its far greater strategic interest of preventing Iran and its proxies from taking over the areas that ISIS controlled – such as the Syrian-Lebanese border and the tri-border area between Iraq, Syria and Jordan. As Netanyahu warns at every opportunity, Iran and its proxies are moving into all the areas being liberated from ISIS.
And Iran isn’t the only concern from either an Israeli or an American perspective. Turkey is also a looming threat, which will only grow if it isn’t contained.
Turkey’s rapidly accelerating anti-American trajectory is now unmistakable.
Last week during Mattis’s visit to Ankara, Turkish- supported militias in northern Syria opened fire on US forces. Not only did Turkey fail to apologize, Turkey condemned the US for retaliating against the attackers.
Moreover, last week, Turkish authorities announced they are charging US pastor Andrew Brunson with espionage, membership in a terrorist organization and attempting to destroy Turkey’s constitutional order and overthrow its parliament.
Brunson was arrested last October.
Whereas until last year’s failed military coup against the regime of President Recep Erdogan, Turkey demonstrated a firm interest in remaining a member of NATO and a strategic ally of the US, since the failed coup, Turkey has signaled that at best, it is considering its options. US generals say that since the failed coup, they have almost no one to talk to in the Turkish military. Their interlocutors are either under arrest or too afraid to speak to them.
The regime and its supporters express both neo-Ottoman and neo-colonial aspirations, both of which place Turkey on a collision course with the US.
For instance, Melih Ecertas, the head of Erdogan AKP Party’s youth wing proclaimed that Erdogan is not merely the president of Turkey. He is “President of all the world’s Muslims.”
So, too, Muslim Brotherhood leader Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi called Erdogan “the hope of all Muslims and of Islam.”
Qaradawi, who lives in Qatar and is Qatar’s Al Jazeera satellite channel’s superstar preacher, has good reason to love Erdogan.
In June, Erdogan decided to make a strategic move to protect the pro-Muslim Brotherhood and pro-Iranian Qatari regime from its angry neighbors, led by Saudi Arabia. Turkey’s deployment of forces to Doha stalled the Saudi-led campaign against the Qatari regime.
If the regime survives, and if world oil prices continue to drop and so weaken Saudi economic power, Turkey’s decision to deploy its forces to Qatar could be the first step toward realizing its neo-Ottoman ambitions.
As for neo-imperialism, last October Foreign Policy reported that Turkish television now uses a map from 1918 to define Turkey’s current borders. From 1918 through 1920, Turkish territory included large portions of Iraq, among them Kurdistan and Mosul, as well as large swaths of Syria, including Aleppo.
Foreign Policy reported that use of the map indicates that as the post-World War I map of the Middle East becomes obsolete, Erdogan sees an opportunity to expand Turkish territory.
Then there are Erdogan’s moves to build strategic ties with Russia and Iran.
Last November the NATO member announced it is negotiating the purchase of an S-400 air defense system from Russia.
As for Iran, last week Maj.-Gen, Mohammad Hossein Baghari, Iran’s chief of General Staff, paid the first official visit by an Iranian army chief to Turkey since the 1979 revolution. Baghari met not only by his Turkish counterpart, Gen. Hulusi Akar, but with Erdogan as well.
Erdogan said after the meeting that he and Baghari discussed possible joint military action against the Kurds in northern Iraq, Syria and Iran.
In his words, “Joint action against terrorist groups that have become a threat is always on the agenda.
“This issue has been discussed between the two military chiefs, and I discussed more broadly how this should be carried out.”
Baghari was more explicit. He effectively announced that Iran and Turkey will respond with force to the Kurdish referendum.
“Both sides stressed that if the [Kurdish] referendum would be held, it will be the basis for the start of a series of tensions and conflicts inside Iraq, the consequences of which will affect neighboring countries.”
Baghari continued, “Holding the referendum will get Iraq, but also Iran and Turkey involved and that’s why the authorities of the two countries emphasize that it is not possible and should not be done.”
This then brings us back to Israel and the US and why Netanyahu is right to support Kurdish independence and the Trump administration is wrong to oppose it.
So long as there is no significant change in the nature of the Iranian and Turkish regimes, their empowerment will come at the expense of the US, Israel and the Arab Sunni states.
The Kurds, with their powerful and experienced military forces in Iraq and Syria alike, constitute a significant check on both Iranian and Turkish power.
Several commentators argue that the Turks will respond to the Kurdish referendum by waging a war of annihilation against the Kurds in Iraq and beyond. Iran, they warn, will assist in Turkish efforts.
As far as Iran is concerned, in the near future, its central effort will remain in Syria. As for Turkey, whereas Erdogan and his followers may wish to undertake such a campaign, today it hard to imagine them succeeding.
A year after the failed coup, the Turkish military is astounding observers with its incompetent performance in Syria. Despite the fact that Turkish forces are fighting in Syria in areas adjacent to their border, they are unable to competently project their force.
Turkey’s underperformance in Syria makes clear that the Turkish armed forces, which Erdogan gutted in his purges of the officer and NCO corps in the wake of the failed coup, have not rebuilt their strength.
According to an analysis by Al-Monitor published last September, the first four rounds of purges in the immediate aftermath of the failed coup reduced the number of general officers by nearly 40%. The ratio of pilots to aircraft in the Turkish Air Force was reduced from more than three pilots per plane to less than one pilot per plane.
While Al-Monitor assessed last year that it would take up to two years for the Turkish Air Force to rebuild its pilot corps, last week it appeared that two years was a gross underestimation of the time required.
Last week the US rejected a Turkish request to have Pakistani pilots fly Turkish F-16s. The request owed to the critical shortage of pilots in the Turkish Air Force.
And Erdogan continues to purge his generals. In early August he sacked the commanders of Turkish land forces and the Turkish Navy.
Given the current state of Turkish forces on the one hand, and the battlefield competence of Kurdish forces on the other, it is clear that the balance of the two forces has never been better for the Kurds.
If Kurdistan becomes independent with US and Israeli backing and survives, the implications for the longevity of the Erdogan regime, given the rapidly expanding size of the Kurdish minority in Turkey, are significant.
Likewise for Iran, an independent Kurdistan in Iraq will serve to contain Iranian power in Syria and potentially destabilize the Iranian regime at home.
In summary then, opponents of Kurdish independence are correct. An independent Kurdistan will destabilize the region. But contrary to their claims, this is a good thing. For the first time since 2009, destabilization will benefit the US and Israel and weaken Iran and Turkey.